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Global border clearance procedures come at a high cost to industry. Customs agencies are overwhelmed by growth in the volume of trade using traditional inspection methods and regulatory requirements are putting pressure on border agencies to collect tax and fight illicit trade. What we have today is an increasingly unsustainable situation for all.

To reduce the complexity, time and costs related to importing and exporting goods, all parties need to make use of extensive, existing product data. This has been recognised by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), who has dubbed 2019 as: “the year of SMART Borders”, focusing on the swift and smooth cross-border movement of goods, people and means of transport. GS1 is supporting WCO to improve border operations, working with both industry and government.

The Challenge

All Customs operations share two objectives: the timely and efficient clearance of compliant goods and the detection of non-compliant goods. Insufficient product information and data errors lead agencies to treat many “light touch” products as “high risk”, ultimately leading to unnecessary cargo inspections and the slow-down of goods across borders.

GS1 standards at the border

GS1 is working on a range of initiatives in North and South America, as well as Asia, where global data standards are being recognised in a wide range of government applications. The focus is on exploring how access to more granular and high-quality data can help better identify goods, economic operators and secure supply chains.

GS1 standards are already widely used by well-known manufacturers, retailers, and logistics firms the same companies that Customs and other government agencies interact with. The use of GS1 standards not only leverages information from the private sector but allows governments to make decisions at the border that ultimately improve efficiency, safety and revenue collection.